On Mondays, a group of women from both churches attend a book study using “A Grace-Full Life” by Jorge Acevedo and Wes Olds. I discovered it when I attended the Grace In Action Conference at their church, Grace Church (UM) in Cape Coral, Florida. In their book Olds and Acevedo explore God’s grace, His unmerited favor, which God presents through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
John Wesley used different terms to understand God’s grace as it intersects with us at different stages of our spiritual journey. God approaches and “woos” us with prevenient grace, revealing love for us long before we acknowledge Him or give Him a place in our lives.
Some behaviors are addictions and require intense treatment. Usually indicated by disruption in several areas of a person’s life, addictions are subject to denials and when addressed, cannot easily be stopped. Habits, however, are the sum of our practicing a behavior until it’s automatic.
“An addiction is a compulsive need of a certain thing or substance to the body, which when deprived causes horrible effects. A habit can be controlled or modified, while addiction cannot be controlled and requires professional help for modification.” (http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-habit-and-addiction)
So, what is our worst habit? You might think the answer subjective, and for the most part you would be correct. However, one habit many of us have, and enjoy, is the worst habit of them all, GOSSIP! The wisdom of the Proverbs says:
John and Charles Wesley grew up in the Church of England where their father served as a Parish Priest. The 18th century church was in decline as it had become a somewhat closed culture where prosperity and wealth set the tone. Priests trained in some of the finest academic institutions in the world, as did John and Charles, where the study of Greek and an understanding of theology superseded the Gospel of mercy and grace.
Tension in England grew as the struggle escalated between the haves and have nots, where no real middle class existed. Pressure began to build in both England and France as the privileged ignored the plight of ordinary people.
Jesus got angry. He entered the Temple in Jerusalem only to discover (being omniscient He already knew) officials and those authorized by them, taking advantage of travelers there to sacrifice. Small animals available for sale but only after you exchanged your foreign coins for local money at rates bordering on theft. Jesus got so angry He “cleared the Temple,” shouting about their turning His Father’s house, a place reserved for prayer, into a “den of thieves!”
So, anger must be okay?
Maybe you were here a couple of weeks ago, when this acrostic entered our hearing. It came in the sermon, from a memory rekindled through the Grace in Action Conference I attended in Cape Coral, Florida. Rev. Wes Olds, pastor of the main campus of Grace Church, and someone I met in Lexington, Kentucky years ago, reminded us we are Children of God, Persons of Worth.
Do you understand? He was talking about you. About me. Despite our flaws, our bad habits, prejudices, and denial, God loves us. He loves us with all His heart. He loves us as much as He ever has and will never love us any more than He does right now.
God takes joy in what we do, but He loves us for who we are!